It’s a pretty safe bet that North Carolina won’t have a budget by the end of the month when the legislature has announced it will adjourn.
In fact, from the latest press releases from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger, it appears the two sides are moving farther apart.
Berger sent out a press release stating that Cooper had sent Berger a letter last week and “informed Senate leadership in writing, that the letter was a good faith gesture and they would not release the letter to the press. Today Governor Cooper issued a press release about the letter.”
Cooper did more than that, he also released the letter.
The letter from Cooper to Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore seems fairly typical. Cooper has been highly critical of the min-budget bills that the House and Senate have passed, but evidently Cooper has changed his mind and in the letter requests one more mini-budget bill to raise teacher salaries. Cooper states, “My budget called for a raise of 9.1% for K-12 teachers. However, my compromise of July 8th lowered the K-12 teacher raise to 8.5%.”
Cooper states that he is willing to negotiate on teacher raises “independent of other elements of the budget.”
The press release from Berger states that Berger and Cooper spoke on the phone about negotiating the teacher pay issue, which is a $5 billion part of the budget.
The Berger press release states, “Any conclusion on such a large part of the budget will have impacts on budget availability for other programs. Senator Berger therefore told Governor Cooper that he would negotiate all of the remaining budget items together, but it would not make sense to negotiate on just one of them. Senator Berger then asked Governor Cooper to drop his Medicaid expansion ultimatum so they could negotiate a final budget.
“Governor Cooper refused again.”
Berger’s press release also states that the governor’s administration had reached agreement with the legislature on Medicaid transformation funding and on teaching kids to read. “The legislature passed those bills based on the agreement with Governor Cooper. He then vetoed both of the bills.”
The result of the legislature and Cooper not being able to reach an agreement on teacher raises or the budget means that teachers aren’t getting a raise and it appears highly unlikely they will until the state passes a budget.
The state House passed a veto override vote on the budget in September and the Senate only needs one Democratic senator to vote with all the Republicans to override the veto for the budget to become law.
Berger has said that he may call the Senate back into session after filing for the 2020 election closes in December, because Berger says that Cooper has threatened the Democratic senators with primary opposition if they vote for the budget.